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Travel + Culture

Travel Smart: Five Great Deals

Gourmet’s travel editor has some inside information—namely, that there are genuine values to be had this summer—and he’s in a generous mood.

I get news every day of some kind of special offer, everything from a simple rate reduction at a nice hotel to a creative add-on dreamed up by the clever marketing department of a luxury conglomerate. Sometimes you have to act fast in order to take advantage of the deal, and when I get something that hot (like a recent short-window British Airways two-for-one Business Class offer), I tweet about it. Otherwise, there are some excellent specials that have no immediate expiration date. What really impresses me these days is the quality of the companies cutting the deals. Get a load of these:

The “Peace of Mind” package, from a hotel company whose very name suggests extravagance, soothes the temper of the times with the security of an all-inclusive plan—free parking (which can cost up to $30 a day), free breakfast (a small fortune, especially for a family), and free Internet (shouldn’t it always be free?). And this is on top of the free-nights promotion (three nights for the price of two; five for the price of three; a week for the price four nights). Rates vary according to destination, from Texas to Tokyo.

One Aldwych, London
I’ve always thought that the starting rate of $550 a night was pretty steep, even for a grand hotel that’s kind of a hip Waldorf-Astoria, even for London. That’s why it’s amazing now to see that same room going for $330 (weekends only). Of course, a favorable exchange rate helps, too. At Dukes, One A.’s quieter, clubbier sister hotel, the price starts at $275.

Book a Silversea cruise by July 31 on one of this line’s four luxury vessels and get a $1,000 onboard “spending credit.” Or, to put it another way, take $1,000 off the price of your cruise (to Alaska and the Pacific Coast, say, or maybe you’re in more of a Baltic frame of mind). Meanwhile, you can save 50 percent with Seabourn, and the cruise line isn’t mincing words. The discount link on the company website reads “Show Me the Deals!”

Kimpton Hotels
This nationwide chain of boutique hotels has one of the cleverest promotions going (albeit more of the value-added variety rather than windfall savings): Pay $1 more per night than the best available rate for your room and get either a free breakfast or a cocktail thrown into the deal. Or, breakfast one day, a cocktail the next.

British Airways
Because BA buys large blocks of rooms directly from hotels, it can offer rates at any price it wants, cutting and raising them at will. Right now, the airline has included that pricing flexibility in a nifty program that lets customers put together their own packages by searching participating hotels in a given destination and comparing prices. Just add airfare—even rental cars and sightseeing—in what might be the travel equivalent of creating your own salad.